Previous | Next


Before the tragedy, the Sentiero Angelica had been one of the most popular hiking trails in Italy. Now, it stretched out before Angelina, cracked and overgrown from four years of neglect. Weeds spread like tentacles from cracks in the path, and a few particularly tenacious cacti poked their heads from beneath the concrete. A long, narrow wooden sign was nailed to either side of the trail’s railings, blocking the entrance. Its letters, once an urgent red, had faded to a soft pink-brown.

Pericolo, it warned. Danger.

Angelina hopped over it.

The trail head was creepy in the way abandoned places usually were, full of everyday things untouched and left to decay. Signs on half-rotted wood posts pointed the way to a town that no longer existed.

The sun wasn’t up yet, but while she had been on the train, the sky had faded from black to a pink-tinged blue, leaving her just enough light to avoid the worst of the cracks and bumps in the path.

She heard rustling in the trees beside her and froze, thinking of the recent news reports about this place. Some thrill-seeking teenagers had tried to hike the Sentiero Angelica, lost track of the overgrown trail, and been mauled by wild animals–supposedly wolves. None of them had survived.

Slowly, carefully, she retrieved the scissors from her bag and brandished them, wishing she had armed herself better. They felt so small and flimsy.

The thing in the woods beside her stirred.

She thought of the urban legends about this place, the rumors it was haunted by the town’s old residents. The speculation that those poor teenagers had been killed by something other than wolves. After all, wolves weren’t supposed to live anywhere nearby. There weren’t supposed to be any animals around here that could tear people to pieces like that.

She thought back to a few months ago, when a friend had taken her camping. They’d been in a field a few miles from the Sentiero Angelica, and she’d been nervous enough about setting up a tent on land that was probably someone’s property. Then, her friend had told her a scary story about vicious creatures that lived in the forest nearby and devoured unsuspecting travelers. The story had seemed so outlandish, but her friend had told it with a straight face, swearing it was true.

Walking this neglected trail, the story didn’t seem so outlandish any more.

The thing in the trees chirped, then fluttered toward her.

A bird.

She lowered the scissors and placed them back into her bag, feeling silly. Her journey had barely started, and she was already jumpy.

She needed to calm her nerves.

She traced her fingers across the enamel heart on her locket pendant and felt herself relax a little. Then she removed her iPod from her bag, plugged in her earbuds, and put The Goldfish Technique’s music on shuffle.

There. Now she was ready.




A deep, inhuman voice boomed from behind Lachlan, shaking him like an explosion, and for a brief, wild moment, he wondered if the great mad scientist in the sky was answering his prayers.

It wouldn’t be the most fucked up thing that had happened that day.

“Hello,” it said again. “Aren’t you going to answer me?”

Up until now, everything he’d encountered here had spoken with an American accent, from Sam to the cannibal sisters. Even the fucking murder rectangle had been American for some reason.

This voice lacked an American accent. In fact, aside from its nightmarish, pulsating quality, it had an almost generic voice that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from an Australian newscaster or radio personality. Lachlan wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Lachlan started to turn around.

“Wait,” said the voice. “Don’t turn around yet.”

“Uh…” Lachlan stopped turning around. “Why not?”

“My appearance is strange. I don’t want to frighten you.”

“Everything here’s appearance is fucking strange. You’re not special.”

Lachlan turned all the way around.

The creature that stood behind him was as immense and terrifying as its voice. It had dozens, maybe even hundreds of faces, all of them pallid, skeletal, and rotting. The faces formed a cluster over twice Lachlan’s height, roughly the shape of a skull without a bottom jaw. Two large, black eyes stared down at him from the eye holes of the ‘skull’. Thousands of tendrils writhed beneath the clusters of faces, some of them reaching and stopping a few inches short of him.

If he’d seen that thing yesterday, he might have screamed or even passed out, but today, he’d seen enough that he was almost unfazed. Almost.

“Holy motherfuck, mate, ‘strange’ was the understatement of the millennium. You’re a walking nightmare.”

“I told you not to turn around.”

All of the creature’s mouths moved as it spoke, but the voice came from somewhere else, somewhere deeper in its core.

“And why would I listen to you? I’ve nearly been eaten twice today. That’s the sort of thing that gives a guy trust issues.”

“I’m not going to eat you.”

“Oh, sure. Anyone can say they’re not going to eat you. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“I’m not. I promise,” said the creature.

“Oh, you promise? Well, in that case, I feel all better. Completely reassured.”

“You’re being sarcastic.”

“What? Me? Being sarcastic? No, never.”

“I only want to talk.”

“Then talk.” Lachlan shrugged. “I’m not stopping you.”

As the creature fixed its large eyes on Lachlan, each of its many smaller faces shifted to look at him as well.

“Your friend doesn’t look well.”

The creature pointed a tendril in Sam’s direction.

“Oh, him?” said Lachlan. “He’s not my friend.”

“What happened to him?”

“He, uh, had his fingers eaten off.”

“Looks like you two had a run-in with the Sisters, then.”

Lachlan nodded.

“You were lucky you got away as unscathed as you did. The ones you ran into must not have been fully matured.”

“Not fully matured? The implications of that phrase are terrifying.”

“They are,” said the creature, “but I have other things to discuss with you.”

“Other things such as?”

Things about my brother. I’ll tell you in a moment. First I have to feed.”

Lachlan scooted backward away from the creature, eyeing it warily.

“You… said you weren’t going to eat me.”

The creature extended its tendrils beyond Lachlan, pointing behind him at Sam’s prone body.

I said I wouldn’t eat you,” said the creature. “I didn’t say anything about him.”

Previous | Next

5 thoughts on “3.7

  1. So I’m proud of myself because I managed to publish this chapter on time AND get to work on time after staying awake half the night for a work thing. Hopefully, the chapter isn’t too riddled with errors because of this. 🙂

    I just want to say that even though I have a very small reader base, I appreciate every single person who has taken the time to read my story. I know it has its flaws, but I hope you’re enjoying it.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s